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This is a sub-article of Islamic criminal jurisprudence and Blood money.

Qiṣāṣ (Arabic: قصاص‎) is an Islamic term meaning "retaliation" or "settlement of accounts".[1] It is a legal concept that follows the principle of lex talionis ("An eye for an eye") first recorded in the Code of Hammurabi. In the case of murder, it means the right of a murder victim's heirs to demand the murderer's execution.

O ye who believe, equivalence is the law decreed for ye when dealing with murder – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. If one is pardoned by the victim's kin, an appreciative response is in order, and an equitable compensation shall be paid. This is an alleviation from thine Lord and mercy. Anyone who transgresses beyond this incurs a painful retribution.[2][3]

The Qur'an also allows aggrieved parties to forfeit the right of qiṣāṣ as an act of charity or in atonement for sins.[4] Pardoning (in the name of God, fī sabīli llāhi) and compensation lead to the question whether wealthy offenders are unjustly favoured[5] or, on the other hand, whether an offender may be punished despite pardoning by way of ta'zīr (fasād fī 'l-arḍ).[6]

Qiṣāṣ is enforced today by a number of states which apply Sharia law, such as Saudi Arabia[7] and Iran.[8][9] Pakistan, having inherited the penal code of British India, introduced qiṣāṣ and diyat law in 1990[10][11] following the Gul Hasan Khan case.[12]

In 2009, qiṣāṣ gained attention in the Western media when Ameneh Bahrami, an Iranian woman blinded in an acid attack, demanded that her attacker Majiv Movahedi be blinded as well.[13] In 2011, Bahrami retracted her demand on the day the sentence was to be carried out, requesting instead that her attacker be pardoned.[14]


  1. ^ almaany.com; see also Hans Wehr, p. 897
  2. ^ Sura 2, The Heifer (Al-Baqarah), 178
  3. ^ [Quran 2:178]
  4. ^ [Quran 5:45]
  5. ^ "Qisas being used by the wealthy to avoid trial: CJ". The Express Tribune (Pakistan), 3 October 2013 (concerning the murder of Shahzeb Khan).
  6. ^ e.g. Azmat and another v. The State, PLD 2009 SC 768
  7. ^ A Brief Overview of the Saudi Arabian Legal System, July 2008
  8. ^ A Guide to the Legal System of the Islamic Republic of Iran, March 2006
  9. ^ Islamic Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Book 3
  10. ^ Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 1990 (VII of 1990); later: Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1997 (II of 1997) → PPC ss. 299–338-H
  11. ^ Women's Commission Recommends Qisas Law Be Amended
  12. ^ PLD 1989 SC 633–685, affirming PLD 1980 FSC 1–60
  13. ^ "In Iran, a case of an eye for an eye" Phillie Metro March 29, 2009
  14. ^ "Iranian sentenced to be blinded for acid attack is pardoned" (BBC News, 31 July 2011)

See also[edit]